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14 March, 2011

VCUQatar Announces Al-Mehain, Dr. Al-Mutawa and Raby as Inspirational Speakers for Tasmeem 2011

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is pleased to announce the participation of Amal Al-Mehain, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa and Fiona Raby as inspirational speakers for the Tasmeem Doha 2011 – Synapse: Designer as Link conference.

Tasmeem Doha 2011 will take place at VCUQatar from 21 to 24 March, 2011.

Amal Ameen Al-Mehain is a design pioneer for Arab women in the region. Carving out a space for design within a larger corporate structure, Al-Mehain literally created a design culture from the inside out. She not only creates and makes for her own company, but she also reaches out and links with other companies to form fruitful design partnerships. She is a true innovator, developing her own innovative practice appropriate to the modern and successful Qatari business-woman.

At Tasmeem 2011, Al-Mehain will represent the principal link for design in Qatar. She is uniquely positioned to articulate her experiences and insight into the capacity of design to link people and knowledge in order to create a design culture with a distinct identity. “Al-Mehain creates work that is beautiful, functional, and incorporates community conscious design and has the capacity to empower students to cultivate a healthy and progressive design culture in Qatar and to bring design action to its full potential in the region,” said Meike Kaan, executive director of Communications at VCUQatar.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design from VCUQatar, alumna Amal Al-Mehain currently leads the Design Department at Barwa Media. Examples of her work include the International Furniture and Design Exhibition and Qatar Real Estate Exhibition booth designs, the graphic identity for Qatari rally driver Nasser al-Attiyah, design projects for multi-utility service provider Marafeq, the Barwa Media website, and the famous Barwa and Diar taxi advertising campaigns in London.

The critically acclaimed work of Dr. Naif Al Mutawa links multiple arenas: culture, religion, design, psychology, sociology, and more. The success of The 99 graphic novels shows the capacity of creative design to further the development of cross-cultural understanding and to bridge generational and religious divides in meaningful ways. Dr. Al Mutawa’s work aligns perfectly with Qatar’s vision of social development as the nation seeks to construct a narrative that permits religious and cultural openness, understanding and tolerance among diverse peoples.

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is a Kuwaiti clinical psychologist and creator of THE 99, the first group of comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype. Recently, Forbes named THE 99 as one of the top 20 trends sweeping the globe and most recently, President Barack Obama praised Dr. Al-Mutawa and THE 99 as perhaps the most innovative of the thousands of new entrepreneurs viewed by his Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Al-Mutawa is the clinical director of The Soor Center for Psychological Counseling and Assessment, Kuwait’s leading professional source of a broad range of psychological services. He has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University where he also earned a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology. He holds a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and an MBA, also from Columbia University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University, where he triple majored in clinical psychology, English literature and history. He received the Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Media from Tufts University, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations “Marketplace of Ideas” Award, and The Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award presented at the 2009 World Economic Forum.

In the last few decades, Qatar has experienced what can only be described as a process of hyper-modernization. As a futurist thinker, Fiona Raby wields the requisite experience and background to provide a special kind of insight into the future of Qatar and to see VCUQatar as a fruitful site for forward-looking ideation.

Raby is a partner in the design practice Dunne & Raby alongside Anthony Dunne. Dunne & Raby use design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. Their work has been exhibited and published internationally and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Frac Ile-de-France and Fnac (Fond national d'art contemporain), as well as several private collections. A classic innovator, Raby combines materials and methods to produce unusual, clever and poignant designs destined for the product shelves.

Raby studied Architecture at the RCA before working for Kei'ichi Irie Architects in Tokyo. She also holds an MPhil in Computer Related Design from the RCA. She was a founding member of the CRD Research Studio where she worked as a senior research fellow leading externally funded research projects. She taught in Architecture for over 10 years before teaching in Design Interactions.

Tasmeem 2011 "Synapse: Designer as Link", with 14 speakers and 14 workshops, is interdisciplinary and collaborative, aiming to forge dynamic links between students, creative problem solvers, local community members, community stakeholders and VCUQatar. Tasmeem 2011 is situated as a working conference, featuring student driven teams investigating the role of design as a problem solving activity that tackles community issues, our daily life-worlds and future concerns. Conference activities are designed to generate awareness, raise important questions and provide meaningful, realizable solutions. For more information about Tasmeem 2011, featured speakers, workshops and events, and to register please visit http://www.tasmeemdoha.com/ 

Amal Al-Mehain, Barwa Media

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator THE 99

Fiona Raby, architect, Dunne & Raby